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Yemen: Civilian casualties double since end of monitoring

Kieran Burke
February 10, 2022

A Norwegian rights group has noted a startling rise in civilian casualties since the UN ended human rights monitoring in Yemen. It has called for the reinstatement of an independent body.

Girls sit in a bedroom of their house damaged by Saudi-led air strikes on a nearby military site in Sanaa, Yemen in January
The Norwegian Refugee Council has called for a return to monitoring of the Yemen conflict after reporting that civilian casualties have nearly doubled since independent monitoring endedImage: Khaled Abdullah/REUTERS

A humanitarian NGO said civilian deaths and injuries in Yemen's civil war have spiraled since independent monitoring was cut by the UN in October.

"Figures we release today show civilian casualties have doubled in Yemen since UN human rights monitoring ended last October," the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) said in a statement on Thursday.

'Unchecked, horrific violations' since removal of monitoring

The NRC said that 1,523 civilians had been killed or injured in the four months after the UN pulled the plug on its monitoring operation in the country.

Four months prior to the UN's decision to disband the Group of Eminent and Regional Experts on Yemen (GEE), the number of civilians killed or injured stood at 823.

During the same period, the report states that there were 39 times more civilian casualties caused by airstrikes.

"The removal of this crucial human rights investigative body took us back to unchecked, horrific violations,” said Erin Hutchinson, country director of the NRC in Yemen.

"Who is responsible for the deaths of these children and families? We will probably never know because there is no longer any independent, international and impartial monitoring of civilian deaths in Yemen,” Hutchinson added.

Baking bread during Yemen's humanitarian crisis

Calls for restablishment of human rights monitoring

The NRC has called for the immediate reinstatement of the GEE or for a similar human rights monitor to be put in place.

In October 2021, the UN Human Rights Council voted to disband the GEE, a move panned by critics. At the time Amnesty International's Agnes Callamard said that Yemen's people had "been abandoned" and  "betrayed".

The NRC pointed out that the GEE was the only independent body monitoring violations by all parties in the Yemen conflict.

Since 2014, Yemen has been embroiled in a civil war which has killed tens of thousands of people and spawned one of the world's worst humanitarian situations.

AFP contributed to this report